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22 August 2012
STDs, cancers possible with declining circumcisions

Increased rates of diseases associated with lower rates of male circumcision, including HIV, herpes and genital warts, cervical and penile cancers are likely, say medicos from Johns Hopkins. Their study, in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, puts a price tag of more than $4.4 billion in avoidable health care costs on the decline.

Senior study investigator Aaron Tobian says that roughly 55 percent of males born each year in the United States are circumcised, a decline from a high of 79 percent in the '70s and '80s. Rates in Europe average only 10 percent, and in Denmark, only 1.6 percent of infant males undergo the procedure.

According to Tobian, if U.S. male circumcision rates dropped to European rates, there would be an expected 12 percent increase in men infected with HIV; 29 percent more men infected with HPV; a 19 percent increase in men infected with herpes; and a 211 percent jump in the number of infant male urinary tract infections.

Among the female sex partners of these men, Tobian says there would be 50 percent more cases each of bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis. The number of new infections with the high-risk form of human papillomavirus, which is closely linked to cervical cancer in women, would increase by 18 percent.

"Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear," said Tobian. "There are health benefits to infant male circumcision in guarding against illness and disease, and declining male circumcision rates come at a severe price, not just in human suffering, but in billions of health care dollars as well."

The problem in the United States is compounded, Tobian says, by the failure of the American Academy of Pediatrics to recognize the medical evidence in support of male circumcision. The Johns Hopkins team says it plans to share its study findings among state government officials across the United States to help raise awareness of its medical and cost-benefit analysis.

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Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

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